Leonard J. Arrington's biography of David Eccles is the first book-length study of the pioneer western businessman who became Utah's first multimillionaire industrialist-financier. Eighteen chapters focus on Eccles' youth, marriages, family activities, religious experiences, and death. Some attention is also given to the reasons for Eccles' extraordinary success as a stimulator of economic enterprise and as an accumulator of wealth. His estate, appraised in 1913, amounted to nearly $7 million.
David Eccles' business career began with a partnership that owned and operated a small sawmill in the Monte Cristo Mountains and a retail outlet in Ogden. He bought out his associates in 1881 and immediately expanded operations in Utah and Idaho. Six years later, he extended his activities into Oregon, erecting several small plants that were combined in 1887 as the mammoth Oregon Lumber Company. Railroads were corollary ventures, transportation being a prerequisite for commercial development of large timber tracts in a three-state region.